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Obama's Mumbai visit: The big picture

Last updated on: November 6, 2010 20:51 IST

Obama's Mumbai visit: The big picture

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Corporate leaders at Saturday's business conclave featuring President Barack Obama reached consensus that transfer of technology, market access, and resisting protectionism must be central to stimulating growth, creating jobs, and spurring two-way opportunity.

"The U.S.-India commercial relationship has achieved a level of depth and maturity where we stand together to create a "win-win" opportunity for both countries," said Ron Somers, President of the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC).

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Image: Ron Somers, President of the U.S.-India Business Council.

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Mukesh Ambani, chairman and CEO of Reliance Industries, India's largest private sector company, described how his recent $1 billion-plus investment in Pennsylvania's Atlas Energy, which has pioneered shale gas extraction in the United States, will 'grow' American jobs and enhance America's energy security while providing access to these same technologies to explore much-needed gas supplies in India.

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Image: Mukesh Ambani.

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GE's cairman and CEO, Jeff Immelt , described India not only as a vast market for America's high-end manufactured products-like locomotives, aircraft, combined cycle gas turbines, and jet engines- products America still excels at manufacturing, but India is also now a vital link in the global supply chain of many world-class companies.

GE has been on the ground in India for over a century.

It sells American-made products into India as well as develops sophisticated equipment in places like Hyderabad and Bengaluru.

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Image: GE's Chairman and CEO, Jeff Immelt.

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Anand Mahindra echoed the benefits of the two-way street connecting the US and Indian economies, whose tractor business in America is investing in technologies that are creating American jobs while enabling Mahindra and Mahindra to increase its capacities to satisfy demand in India and around the globe.

The result is a net gain of jobs being generated for both sides.

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Image: Anand Mahindra.
Photographs: Reuters
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Louis Chenevert , chairman and CEO of United Technologies Corporation, whose storied brands include Carrier, Pratt & Whitney, Otis Elevators, and Sikorsky helicopters, spoke to UTC's ability to remain competitive by integrating India into the company's global value chain.

"Net/net," USIBC noted, "the next chapter in US-India commercial ties is about collaboration and integration, presenting comparative advantages so US and Indian companies can remain globally competitive."

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Image: Louis Chenevert , chairman and CEO of United Technologies Corporation.
Photographs: Reuters
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Global players PepsiCo, Honeywell, Bharti Enterprises, and India's largest housing lender, HDFC, suggested that consolidating and sustaining this remarkable growth story will require attention to implementation.

Building human resource capacities, having the benefits of prosperity reach all levels of society, connecting rural India to opportunity, while protecting the environment-these are all areas requiring utmost priority.

"Without inclusive growth-reaching all segments of society in both India and the United States-the message about globalisation and its benefits will continue to be a difficult case to make. No longer is it sufficient to rely on governments to articulate the benefits of globalization; companies must consciously reach out to their markets to ensure inclusivity as core to development," USIBC said.

Access to basic education is just one example where vast improvements are urgently needed.

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PepsiCo's Indra Nooyi is passionate on this point.  Both countries highly value education, yet providing access to basic education continues to present challenges.

Preparing the global workforce of tomorrow is a daunting task that will require support from the business community.

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Image: Indra Nooyi.
Photographs: Reuters
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Rajan Bharti Mittal, of Bharti Enterprises, spoke to the imperative of inviting greater investment into India's farm-to-market supply chain, which requires massive outlays for infrastructure if productivity and efficiency are to be enhanced. Without such improvements, attaining an "Ever-Green Revolution"-the ultimate goal-will remain ephemeral.

Opening India's multi-brand retail sector to organised players will attract investment into this essential sector.

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Image: Rajan Bharti Mittal.
Photographs: Reuters
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Honeywell CEO Dave Cote emphasised the importance of technology collaboration as a crucial ingredient for growth.

The big challenges of the 21st Century-be it weather forecasting, crop distribution, disaster relief, climate change, e-health, e-learning-all stand a greater chance of being solved by applying new innovations of technology.

Easing of technology transfer rules will facilitate greater technology exchange, equipping the US-India partnership with the tools to face future challenges together.

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Image: Honeywell CEO Dave Cote.

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HDFC's Deepak Parekh spoke of the need to mobilise new capital markets in India so infrastructure can be built at a pace that generates opportunities to keep India's young population working, while extending the promise of prosperity to all segments of society, including those living at the 'bottom of the pyramid'.

"Anything short of success on these fronts-in both countries-will run counter to our mutual interests. On these matters, we are in this as partners, together," USIBC noted.

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Image: Deepak Parekh.
Photographs: Reuters
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The promise of greater technology collaboration-applied in ways never thought possible-to enable transformative change, concluded the summit's deliberations.

Palantir and Intuit, US innovators engaged in cutting-edge homeland security and IT solutions, and Jubilant Life Sciences and Kotak Mahindra, leading global Indian biotech and financial service companies, were featured companies demonstrating this transformative thinking and 'next generation  leadership'.

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Palantir's Alexander Karp described how India's homeland security requirements can be revolutionised by American technologies that emerged from 9/11, the attack on New York and Washington in 2001, which sparked innovations in national security.

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Image: Alexander Karp.

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Intuit's CEO, Brad Smith , praised the knowledge partnership between the United States and India that first gained traction after addressing the challenges posed by Y2K and which is now facing headwinds from rising protectionist sentiments.

"We have a responsibility to help this Administration and our companies better articulate how a knowledge partnership between the United States and India enables our companies to remain strong and competitive," USIBC stated.

Job creation is dependent on the strength of companies and their comparative advantage.

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Image: Intuit's CEO, Brad Smith.

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Hari Bhartia of Jubilant Life Sciences described a wide vista of collaboration that can be forged in health care.

Rising health care costs in the United States can be partially offset by lower costs in India-as linkages are developed and discoveries are pioneered together.

The possibilities for cooperation in the pharmaceutical and health field are limitless.

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Image: Hari Bhartia.

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Uday Kotak of Kotak Mahindra described the growing inter-dependence of our financial systems. The technologies underpinning the world's largest economy must be applied now to the world's fastest growing economy.

The consensus of the day: Partnership is essential; our future depends on it.

The business to business relationship between the United States and India showed its growing strength by the sheer numbers of high-level CEOs who attended today's business summit.

Every available seat in The Oberoi Trident's Regal Room with a capacity of 500 was filled with US or Indian corporate business leaders.


Image: Uday Kotak.

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